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What Is The Law On Mobile Phones Whilst Driving?

Laws regarding mobile phone usage whilst driving a vehicle changed in 2022, meaning it is illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any handheld device that can send or receive data, while driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle.

In 2019, the laws became stricter than they previously were. However, with data from 2021, it was suggested that 1 in 200 drivers were still handling their phones whilst behind the wheel. Most modern cars come equipped with Apple Car Play & Android Auto which enables hands-free mobile phone usage by using voice control. This guide is designed for people who don’t have this feature built into their car, so you can understand the changes in law and how you can remain legal behind the wheel.


Related Reading:

What Is Android Auto?

What Is Apple CarPlay?


What Are The Law Changes On Mobile Phones And Driving?

The changes to the law mean that under no circumstances – whether you’re sat in traffic, or stopped with your engine running – can you touch your mobile phone. Prior to the 2022  change in the law, the terminology used meant there were ‘loopholes’, which allowed some people to get away with using their phones. ‘Interactive communication’ was the term used, and it prohibited people from using their mobile phones to make calls and send text messages.

This meant that setting destinations on a navigation app, taking photos, or selecting music was not prohibited, and made it hard for police to prove that people were either texting or making a phone call, meaning many people got away with the £200 fine and 6 penalty points.

The loopholes were investigated by a parliamentary committee and changed, meaning that anybody caught using their mobile phone whilst driving, for any reason, faces a fine and penalty points. This even included people who were supervising a learner driver. They also changed the law so that if a driver is caught twice they would receive an instant ban.

The only exception to the new rule is in a genuine emergency where the emergency services need to be called and there is no safe place to stop. However, if you are caught, the police need to agree with you that it is a genuine emergency.


Related Reading: UK Driving Offence Codes List


Can I Use My Phone When Driving If I Make It Discreet?

There are now cameras on motorways that are configured to catch drivers who are using their mobile phones. These cameras use sophisticated technology to identify potential breaches of this law, which are then verified by a human operator.

In 2021, during a 6-month pilot, 15,000 drivers were caught using their mobile phones on just a single lane of a single motorway. Police officers have also been known to sit on the top section of a double-decker bus or in HGV vehicles to look down and catch any potential rule breakers and dash-cam footage from other drivers has been previously used to prosecute offenders. 

Can I Use My Phone If My Car Is Parked Up?

Only if you are sitting in your vehicle and you are clearly parked up in a safe place with your handbrake on. 

Can I Place My Phone In A Holder?

Attaching your mobile phone to your windscreen, dashboard, or air vent is legal but it must not obscure the view of the road. It reduces the temptation to pick your phone up and allows you to always see it if you are using it for navigation.

Many jobs require the use of this, such as taxi drivers or delivery drivers; it still doesn’t make them exempt from the laws stated above. While you are not allowed to pick the phone up to use it, you are allowed to use your phone with a Bluetooth headset, and you are allowed to use voice commands to control it.

Can I Use My Phone To Make Contactless Payments?

You may use your mobile phone to pay at a fuel station, or a drive-thru fast food venue, as you are parked and there is a very low chance of you causing an accident.

This may seem a little contradictory to what has been stated above, but due to the ways of the modern world, the rise of mobile phone contactless payments and the decline of physical bank cards, a little common sense had to be applied.

What Are The Fines And Penalties For Driving With Your Mobile Phone?

A fixed penalty notice of £200 is issued as well as six points on your licence. Drivers can get a further 3 penalty points if they do not have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle, if they are found to be using a handheld device.

Offenders can also be taken to court where they can be banned from driving and receive a maximum fine of £1,000.

There is no excuse for picking up a mobile phone whilst driving.


Related Reading: What Happens If You’re Charged With A Driving Offence In The UK